Centre reacts to HPV death reports , directs states to stop vaccine trials


Posted by: Jaidev lohchab 17/04/2010

Reports claiming that 6 tribal girls bore the brunt of vaccine trials by succumbing to death are now being thwarted. Their death is now being attributed to causes other than the administration of vaccines. These causes include viral fever, drowning, suicide, severe anemia with malaria and suspected snake bite. Irrespective of what the reports suggest, government has now given instructions to stop the vaccine trials for now.

Cervical cancer which is the most prevalent cause of cancer amongst women is now linked to Human papillomaviruses (HPVs). These viruses are sexually transmitted and lead to development of carcinogenic warts or formations in genital area. This in turn increases a woman’s risk of developing cervical cancer. Though HPVs are a group of 100 viruses, those which cause cancer are collectively known as “High-risk” viruses. Sexually transmitted, high-risk HPVs include types 16, 18, 31, 33, 35, 39, 45, 51, 52, 56, 58, 59, 66, 68, and 73. Of these HPVs 16 and 18 are responsible for 70% of the cervical cancers.

The issue erupted as trials of two imported brands of Gardasil and Cervarix human papilloma vaccine (HPV) were underway. Gardasil is a quadrivalent vaccine offering protection against 4 types of HPV namely 6, 11, 16 and 18. Cervarix in contrast offers protection against HPV types 16 and 18. The trials were taking place in Khammam district [Andhra Pradesh] and Vadodara district [Gujarat].Out of 24,705 children who undertook the trials, six died. Four of these children belonged to Andhra Pradesh while the other two hailed from Gujarat.
The trials of HPV vaccine was a collaborated effort by US-based voluntary outfit PATH and ICMR and health departments of Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat. The trials were deemed to be extended in Uttar Pradesh as well. The death of these innocent children has instigated strong reactions from across the country. Public health activists have come out in strong protest against the government practices. Path and pharma companies have been accused of following murky and unethical practices.

What is the saddening part about these HPV vaccine trials is that poor and socially backward girls have been targeted. The deaths really raise a question on the nature of these trials where such backward tribal classes of girls are being used as Guinea pigs. As the blame game carries on, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad clarified governments stand stating that the studies had the relevant recommendations and technical support from the relevant institutions.


Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.